Tip #7: Pruning Trees & Shrubs

Pruning of trees and shrubs is done to maintain size, shape, and to maintain healthy vigorous plants. Pruning should be done to maintain the natural shape of a plant, avoiding heavily trimming everything into balls. All plants tend to exhibit apical dominance, which is the desire to grow up towards light. In general most plants are naturally wider at the base than the top, which you should try to maintain. Timing of pruning is important to coincide with natural growth cycles.

TREES – In general, trees need little pruning. Newly planted trees should be elevated or the bottom branches pruned up as the tree grows to encourage an upward, natural shape. Broken, dead or diseased branches should be pruned out as needed. Most trees are best pruned when dormant in winter before the sap starts to flow.


EVERGREEN SHRUBS – Evergreens can be trimmed most anytime, but usually in early Summer after this year’s new growth has flushed out. Flowing evergreens such as Azaleas and Rhododendrons are trimmed immediately after flowering. Avoid trimming in later Summer as this can force new growth which will not over Winter.

DECIDUOUS SHRUBS – In general deciduous shrubs are pruned after they finished flowering, as the new growth provides next year’s flower. Some of the older branches should be thinned out to provide new wood for the future of the plant.

HEDGES – Most hedges need regular trimming to keep them shapely but most are pruned wrong. The base should always be wider than the top. This allows light to the bottom of the plant and keeps the plant full to the bottom.

REMEMBER NOT to heavily prune everything into manicured balls. Gas or electric hedge shears are a great time saver but try to maintain the natural shape of your plantings.